GFCI / double switch help

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  #1  
Old 03-30-16, 04:25 PM
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GFCI / double switch help

Glad to be a part of the forum. Bought a condo in Hawaii a few months ago, and am new to self home improvement work. I'm trying to figure out what's going on with my bathroom receptacle.

In my master bathroom, I have a GFCI receptacle and double switch (one switch for lights and one for ventilation fan) in the same junction box. When the inspector tested this outlet, he said it wasn't grounded. This past weekend, an electrician came by to check out Thetis receptacle. He replaced the GFCI and grounded the receptacle. I wasn't there when he did the work, so I wasn't able to talk to him directly. Apparently, he tested it with his equipment and said everything was good to go.

When I got home from work, I tested it with my Greenlee tester. It showed an open ground condition, and when It tested the GFCI, it never tripped, even up to 30mA. Also, when it did the leakage current test, it temporarily showed a reverse polarity condition. Outlet is functional, and lights and fan work.

Unscrewed the cover plate and this is what I saw. Refer to attached drawing. 2 cables going into the box ... One 2 wire and one 3 wire. The 2 wire is from the breaker and the 3 wire goes to the light/fan. 2 grounds pigtailed and connected to the ground terminal. Any advice on whether it is wired correctly or how I can fix it? Thanks in advance.

Drawing is if you are looking from the back of the box.

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Last edited by PJmax; 03-30-16 at 04:31 PM. Reason: reoriented picture
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  #2  
Old 03-30-16, 04:33 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

If you've drawn exactly what you have..... it's incorrect.

You're showing power going to the switch and then to the receptacle. Power needs to go to the receptacle first and then to the switch. The black and red of the three wire cable should go to the switch.

You're showing the receptacle as connected to ground but from what you are telling us.... it's not actually ground.
 
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Old 03-30-16, 04:46 PM
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Please post pictures of the connections with the switch and receptacle pulled out. Multiple pictures so we can see all wires and connections. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...rt-images.html
 
  #4  
Old 03-30-16, 04:49 PM
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I thought that was weird too. Yes, the electrician wired the hot to the switch and neutral to the GFCI. From what I can tell about the grounds, looked like 2 ground wires were coming from the 3 wire cable. By hey were twisted and capped and pigtailed to the GFCI. It's likely the 2 grounds go back to the light/fan and not be grounded anywhere, so pig tailing to the GFCI doesn't do much good.

Any idea about the reverse polarity situation? When I get home, will switch the hot wire from the light/fan with the hot from the breaker.

I do have some pics on my phone, but they're not very good. I couldn't get the wires to pull out very far to get good pics. Will try to get some better ones when I get home.
 
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Old 03-30-16, 05:48 PM
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I'm a bit worried about what the electrician did. Are all the ground wires bare? There is an unsafe way to fool those simple plug-in checkers so the see ground when there isn't one. It's called a bootleg ground and is done by using a neutral.
looked like 2 ground wires were coming from the 3 wire cable.
There shouldn't be. Do you have a black, white, red and bare wires?
 
  #6  
Old 03-30-16, 06:40 PM
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Yes, the 2 ground wires were completely bare. One ground is definitely coming from the 3 wire cable. 3 wire cable has a black, red, and white wires. The other ground also looked like it was coming from the 3 wire cable, but it might be coming from the 2 wire cable. It's pretty cramped in the box and I couldn't get the receptacle and switch to pull out very far a couple of days ago. I'll double check and take some better pics tonight.
 
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Old 03-31-16, 12:56 AM
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White arrow denotes wires from the white/light/fan cable. Yellow arrows denote wires from the yellow/breaker cable.
 
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Old 03-31-16, 01:05 AM
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2 more pics. Yellow arrows are wires from breaker cable. White arrows are wires from the light/fan cable. Is it bad? Can it be easily fixed? My tester still show open ground condition and reversed polarity when doing the leak test.
 
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Old 03-31-16, 06:25 AM
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I don't like testers that much. Do you have a multimeter? Using a grounded or polarized plug extension cord plugged in to a correctly wired receptacle I would measure the voltage between the ground wires and the narrow slot of the extension cord.
 
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Old 03-31-16, 09:55 AM
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Unfortunately, I do not have a multimeter. Any feedback about how the receptacle and switch are wired? Before the electrician did his thing, the ground was not hooked up (the two bare grounds were twisted together but not connected to the receptacle terminal) and the hot breaker wire was connected to the receptacle. Basically, the black wires were opposite of what they are now (black from breaker went to receptacle and black from fan/light cable went to the switch).

Prior to the electrician, receptacle and switches seemed to work fine. Now, they also still seem to work fine. Regarding the ground, with a GFCI, it doesn't have to be grounded to function properly, right?
 
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Old 03-31-16, 10:09 AM
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Any feedback about how the receptacle and switch are wired?
Yeah.... I commented earlier it's wrong.

This is what you should have...

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Old 03-31-16, 12:37 PM
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I do not have a multimeter.
And yet an $8-$15 analog multimeter (we don't recommend cheap digitals) is far more useful than what you have.

Just connecting the ground wires doesn't make it grounded if the grounds aren't connected on the other end and the alleged electrician's lack of knowledge based on how he hooked it up plus your own readings certainly make the ground wires suspect.
 
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Old 03-31-16, 01:04 PM
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Can someone give a brief explanation of why it's currently wired incorrectly and potential dangers/hazards? Wonder why the electrician desired from correct wiring to now. Once I change it, should be ok, even if the ground isn't really grounded? GFCI will still do it's thing?

I might go pick up a cheap analog multimeter. Not sure how often I would use it after this issue.
 
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Old 03-31-16, 01:30 PM
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The purpose of the duplex switch is to control the light and fan motor separately. It is basically two switches on one yolk. You have two load terminals on the duplex switch, one for each individual switch on the yolk. Red of the 3-conductor cable should go to one switch to send power the the light. Black of the 3-conductor cable go to the other switch to send power the fan motor. Your diagram shows either the light or fan connected straight to the hot and not controlled by one of the two switches.
 
  #15  
Old 03-31-16, 02:53 PM
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Greatly appreciate all the information.

Understand your explanation below, but the switch still works as it should. Is it because the neutral for the 3 wire is on the GFCI? It's not a complete circuit until I flip the switch? With that being said, how can the receptacle for the GFCI work if the switch isn't on?

Also, once I get the multimeter, what kind of reading will I be looking for when I put one lead on the ground and the other in he small slit of an extension cord as suggested below? Sorry for all the noobish questions. Been a while since I had circuits in school.
 
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Old 03-31-16, 03:14 PM
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Is it because the neutral for the 3 wire is on the GFCI? It's not a complete circuit until I flip the switch?
Neutrals are never switched. You don't have a neutral to the switch do you? I can't tell from the picture.
how can the receptacle for the GFCI work if the switch isn't on?
That is why power needs to go to the receptacle first as in PJ's diagram.
what kind of reading will I be looking for when I put one lead on the ground and the other in he small slit of an extension cord
~120 volts.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 03-31-16 at 03:35 PM.
  #17  
Old 03-31-16, 03:30 PM
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There's no way for me to. Heck how the light and can are wired. It's hard to tell, but in the bottom pic of post 7, you can see a white wire coming from the same cable as the red and black wire. Also, in the pic showing the back of the box, there are only 2 cables (a yellow 2 wire and a white 3 wire with grounds) going to it. The 2 grounds are coming from the white (cable for light/fan) cable.

If the multimeter reads 120v, means it's properly grounded? 0 means not grounded?
 
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